March 26, 2010

The day of tomorrow...

I was just reading an article in the magazine we publish at the office and one sentence really struck a cord with me. "The day of tomorrow isn't promised to anyone"

While this is true for everybody on this world, this applies all the more for people who are chronically (and terminally) ill. As a family member or as a friend, we sometimes tend to forget this little truth.

I my case, I think it's an auto-defence mechanism, a way to make sure that you and your loved one can live life with a semblance of normalcy.

I sometimes wonder if I'm the only one who developed this mechanism to cope with it all. Sometimes you just don't WANT to know, because then you'll have to deal with the implications.

Take for example the case of my mum. She's been showing Lupus-related symptoms since age 15, that would make it a 40+ year span. In linked article describing SLE, they talk about a survival rate in United States, Canada, and Europe of approximately 95% at five years, 90% at 10 years, and 78% at 20 years. What kind of rate does that leave somebody after 40+ years, you ask yourself?

In my mum's case, she wasn't (correctly) diagnosed until many years later, which is a blessing in disguise. Pregnancy is a high risk in the case of this illness, I'm glad she didn't know before, otherwise, I wouldn't be here today.

But on the other hand she's never been one to blindly do as told, she's always been a feisty woman. Maybe as a result of having to fight pains all her adult life.

This brings me back to the guy I was reading about, I know him personally too. I just can't imagine how it is to be in your late teens and be told that you have a degenerative and fatal disease. I'm quite sure he's had (and still has) his bad moments, but nonetheless he still soldiers on. Still looks for challenges and opportunities in stead of just giving up and living from day to day.

He still goes and studies and wants to help others, to give back. In the time I've known him, I haven't seen him with a frown on his face, he's always trying to cheer others up. Maybe it's his way of cheering himself up too.

For once, I don't even know where I'm trying to go with this blog. Maybe all I'm trying to say is, don't let yourself be beaten down. and if you know somebody with a chronic disease or some other kind of limitation, don't forget that they are still individuals like you and I, not a case-number, not some anonymous statistic. Help, when help truly needed and when asked for, just like you would do to any other good friend.

And meanwhile, live each day as if it could be your last. If you love somebody, don't wait till tomorrow to tell them for tomorrow may never come.

March 14, 2010

Times flies, and other such trite remarks

I just realised how long it's been since I wrote anything on my blog. It's not as if there is nothing to blog about, but it's more a question of "where to start?"
A lot has been happened since my last blog. In this particular blog, I will tell a bit about (primarily) couchsurfing related stuff that's been happening.

In September last year, I attended the Bradderie de Lille couchsurfing meeting. Here I had a lot of fun and met some very nice people.  The photos depict just some of the attendees at some of the events organised that weekend.

After this weekend, I accepted the challenge and helped organise and coordinate the main event during of the Rotterdam CSinterklaas 2009 meeting. I guess you can say that the operation was a success but the patient nearly died. :) While I still believe in the couchsurfing ideals, I had had enough of CS and decided to try and be less involved. This lasted all of a week.
Aforementioned meeting took place the last weekend of November and the first weekend of December I was already attending a CS meeting in Zagreb.

I was in Zagreb visiting a CS'er I met in Lille and we sure had fun. I found the people met there, both couchsurfers and non-CS'ers, to be very pleasant and open people. Spending time with such a young and enthusiastic group, gave me hope and energy to continue with the project.

After returning home, I decided to stay involved, albeit a bit less than before. Nowadays, I mostly attend the bi-weekly meetings in my hometown.

As if to test my resolve, I was invited to another meeting to celebrate the New Year. This meeting took place in Belgium and was organised by a very bubbly and nice girl I met at the CSinterklaas meeting in Rotterdam. True to the spirit of NYE, we ate and drank a lot. We sure had fun trying to open fresh oysters without a special knife and without hurting ourselves.

Not CS-related but worth mentioning is meeting my former colleague and fellow blogger Johan the next day in Antwerp. While I still can say that I like the city, I have learned to see it through his eyes and have gained a new appreciation for it.
I still have the thank-you mail in my draft folder, but I hereby thank you openly. It was nice seeing you again and I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.
The last couchsurfing related bit of news is the return visit I got from my CS-friend from Zagreb. His visit goes to show that you can plan all you can, but things have a way of going completely in the other direction. His trip was planned beforehand, but at the last minute so much changed on my side of things that it was a real challenge for me to make sure he enjoyed his trip. I sincerely hope he did.
Not only couchsurfing related things happened to me the past couple of months, but they were the easiest to start with for now. I will try and write another blog soon about the other things that have been going on.
At the moment, I’m back in Dortmund visiting friends and have a great time. With all that has been happening, I really needed this weekend.

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